Evil is real and rampant in the world. That simple fact was made plain again last week as news spread that evil broke into Sandy Hook Elementary School in the small, quiet town of Newtown, Conn. and escaped with 28 lives, 20, children and eight adults, including the killer who extinguished the evil he held inside.
How do you make sense of a lunatic breaking into a school to kill 6- and 7-year-old children? There is no sense to make. Evil doesn’t have to make sense. Its job is to create chaos. School systems all over the country are coming to the realization that no matter what they do, there is no totally safe school. Schools are not prisons and we should not make them so.
Sandy Hook was more secure than most, visitors had to be buzzed in before the doors would unlock. That didn’t stop Adam Lanza from breaking into the school to create havoc. That unfortunate reality that schools cannot be made totally safe does not give us an excuse to throw up our hands and do nothing.
A higher degree of safety does not lie in arming teachers and making school grounds into fortresses. We expect so much from teachers already. They are instructors, social workers, doctors, nurses and a myriad of other occupations. We should not add sheriff to that list.
What school systems across the country can learn from Newtown is that staff training works. Creating a safe school environment lies in training teachers and personnel about what to do if all hell breaks loose.
Aside from training we can make our facilities safer. Doors with glass at the main entrance areas are out. Surveillance cameras on the main doors are in, as are cameras at other access points. The ability to close off individual corridors of schools, using automatic gates, is an option to minimize the mobility of an attacker. And there are metal detectors.
To retrofit schools will cost money and superintendents in every school system in the country are already pinching pennies.
So will money get in the way of school safety? Yes. Once the heaviness of this latest tragedy eases, we will go about our daily lives, thinking that something so horrendous could never happen in our communities.
Newtown, Conn., didn’t think something so vile could happen there, either.